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Client who delays payments...help!!!!

(10 Posts)
madteacher Thu 18-Sep-08 08:59:39

I work as a music teacher privately. Parents pay me every half term. 99% of parents pay up on time and without a reminder. I have one parent who is always late- up to 4 weeks late.
She ignores my reminder letters and avoids collecting her son- they live 200 yards down the road.

I don't want to create bad feeling, as we live ina small village and I get a lot of pupils by word of mouth. However, I need the money frankly! If she has a problem paying, I am happy for her to pay weekly, but am not going to suggest this as I don't think money is an issue- I think it is a controlling almost passive/aggressive problem she has.

If she ignores my reminder letters again this term and payment is late by more than 2 lessons, I feel like writing to say that I cannot offer lessons "on credit" and that they are postponed until she pays.

you are all mums- what's your take and have you any other suggestions?

I really don't want a falling out but I fear she is taking the piss- when you work from home as I do, some families think it is pin-money- it's not- I need the money and I am doing this instead of working in a school, I run it as a business and pay my tax etc!

newforold Thu 18-Sep-08 10:14:09

I would postpone the lessons. You are running a business not a community service. And ignoring your requests for payment is plain rude.
If she had come to you and discussed money issues or similar then you could have given her the choice to work out a payment plan.

Gettingagrip Thu 18-Sep-08 10:23:09

You need an official looking form that sets out your terms.

When you send bills in the future you must set out what will happen if , say, payment is late by two weeks, or whatever ....

Then, when payment is delayed you need another official looking form that goes by post, telling her that lessons are cancelled. Not postponed...cancelled.

On the original form you can say that you have a waiting list and that after so many missed payments the waiting list kicks in and they have lost their slot. They will now have to go on the waiting list.

I used to have a similar type problem, as I am a freelance tutor. You can get tough without it getting personal. Just stick to your guns. Be assertive and impersonal. Just like BT or British Gas. If you don't pay your bills you get a letter telling you that they are going to cut you off!!

Its no different. She needs to learn that she cannot have things on her terms. Some people are like that. Why should you subsidse her ? I have found that often the people who are the worst offenders have ten times more income than I do !!!

HTH x

more Thu 18-Sep-08 10:23:53

I would expect you to be firm, and tell me straight out "No money, no lessons, however if you are having problems paying this way then we could try paying at the start of every lesson".

Believe in yourself, you can do this. It is the unfortunate, yet sometimes necessary, part of doing what you do.

madteacher Thu 18-Sep-08 11:02:30

Thanks very much.

I am half way there- each bill/invoice I send says that payment must be made on or before the first lesson of each term.

And yes, parents who earn more than me are often the worst offenders. Many may assume that because I work from home I a)can't get a "proper job" and b) have a rich husband - neither of which is true!

I usually do have a waiting list but at present don't, so I don't want to lose her- but on the t other hand I cannot be bothered with chasing her up and the downright lack of respect for what I am providing.

I have had tutors for my DCs and there is NO WAY that I would have owed for even one lesson, let alone 3 or 4.

Some people.

mumoverseas Thu 18-Sep-08 12:40:33

just a thought, but what would your mortgage company/utility suppliers etc say if you didn't pay for a few weeks/months? Exactly!
My daughter used to have music lessons at school and now has riding lessons for which I pay 1 term in advance. I'm pretty sure if I didn't pay she wouldn't have her lessons!
Be firm, you are not a charity.

TheHolyGrail Thu 18-Sep-08 14:39:07

We pay for lessons both through the school (upfront deposit and very clear terms on when payment hasto be) and also recently privatly but pay as we go (weekly or so). Agree with others - you should always effectively be paid upfront and if not just don't do the lesson and send back pupil with a note. I can't see how this would affect any other pupils - we found teachers on recommendations on how effective they are at teaching. It can be though for parents, just stumped up for 2 lots of swimming lessons too for a whole year at once (but has benefit of free swimming at other times). If it is a money issue of advance then they should offer a weekly payment but in advance.

Dotsie Thu 18-Sep-08 14:44:06

just a thought, have just had a bill for dd's ballet lessons. Teacher's given us a pay-by date and said that any payment received after that (without prior arrangement) will be subject to a 10% surcharge. could this be an option for you? fair, but kick up the bum at the same time...

Elasticwoman Thu 18-Sep-08 22:07:31

MadTeacher - I too am a music teacher working from home. I also expect payment on the first of lessons booked - but I work monthly not half termly. Most people/parents do not want the next invoice to come before the last one has been paid (that's never happened). I'm not too worried about the odd week or so delay, but in the past I have had a system of offering a discount for prompt payment. EG If a half hour lesson costs £13, then paying for 4 lessons at the beginning of the month might be £50. So you could re-jig your whole system, put your prices up but introduce the discount so that your good payers will be paying the same as they do now.

I chase payment by asking "did you get the invoice?" which I normally email.

I also have clients who can't be bothered to look at the invoice and overpay with wads of cash so I then have to credit them the following month ...

madteacher Fri 19-Sep-08 08:45:50

There are some great ideas here - thanks.

Although I have been doing this for years, I need to tighten up. It is only the odd parent who is a problem- some are brilliant and offer to drive miles back home to get their cheque books if they have forgotten ( genuinely.

I am going to make it clear that payment must reach me before the 2nd lesson, IF it has been forgotten at the first lesson.

If it not paid after lesson 2 of the term then there are no more lessons until it is paid. If need be, a child will be sent home with a note. I doubt if this will happen in practice.

I can't really afford to offer a discount and as I have just implemented my annual fee rise I can't adjust it again.

The thing is, I am more than happy to be reasonable - if parents say there is problem they can pay weekly ( as long as they do)- what I object to is the lack of respect and downright rudeness of not replying to reminders and avoiding collecting their child, in order to spin the process out. Then a rather begrudging hand-over of money and no apology for late payment!

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